News / Africa

Hunger Expected to Continue in Niger Despite Good Rains

A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)
A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)

Strong rains are boosting hopes for a good harvest in Niger, where nearly half the  people do not have enough to eat. So why are relief officials already predicting that the food crisis will continue into next year?

The strength of the international community's response to this year's food crisis in Niger helped feed more than 220,000 children under the age of five. At an in-patient therapeutic feeding center in the central Zinder region, cases of acute malnutrition have dropped from nearly 400 two months ago to less than 250 today.

But the need is still great. While more than 85 percent of children recover fully, the death rate is still nearly 8 percent. Other mothers leave the program before the treatment is complete. With seven full-time doctors and 41 nurses, the center has helped save the lives of children from the Zinder commune as well as the surrounding areas of Mirriah and Magaria.

"Things are improving slightly, but it is still extremely sobering," said Valerie Amos, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and Undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs. "This is a country where the development indicators are all very poor. Where you have population growth on a very large scale. I saw one woman today who had nine children. Four of them had died. There is huge amount of public education and awareness raising that needs to be done. It is a terrible thing to see children in that kind of situation."



Though acute malnutrition is on the decline, hunger in Niger is always a cycle. Even the best harvest will not last most families beyond February.

Despite good rains, many millet farmers are already deep in debt from last year's failed crops, so they will have less for themselves after paying off their loans.

In the village of Toumour, less than 60 kilometers from Chad, pastoralists who moved their cattle across the border lost nearly one-third of their herd to disease. Those who stayed behind lost as much as half their cattle. The U.N. says some isolated nomadic herders in northern enclaves lost everything.

While the U.N. Development Program has helped give pastoralists access to credit to rebuild their herds, Amos says more cattle and better rains alone can not solve Niger's structural malnutrition.

"It speaks to the structural issue," she noted. "You have very poor education indicators. You have a country that is quite complicated in the sense that you have people who are pastoralists. Some are nomadic. Some stay put. The country is vast with a small population. The infrastructure is poor. Agricultural development is not taking place at the kind of rate that it should. And it is also suffering the impact of climate change."

Relief officials say the response to this year's food crisis improved greatly after February's coup because military leaders were far more realistic about the challenges than the deposed government of Mamadou Tandja. As the country moves toward a new civilian government, Amos says what happens next is critical to Niger's long-term success.

"I hope that government will really look around and see what is happening to the people of Niger and put long-term, sustainable development at the top of its agenda," Amos said.

Voters in Niger decide whether to accept a new constitution later this month. If approved, it would lead to presidential elections in January, just as relief officials believe the next wave of hunger will begin.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid